How to manage abusive use of screens during confinement


Platforms that offer all their content in open, applications to do zumba, aerobics, yoga or GAP, cooking channels, crafts, painting, DIY or crocheting on YouTube, memes and humor videos by WhatsApp, Telegram, Tik Tok , Snapchat and Instagram, a little while to disconnect with FIFA or to talk to friends at school in Fortnite …

For several days, the confinement due to the Covid-19 health alarm has caused thousands and thousands of families to be isolated in their homes with children, adolescents and young people, with whom they have to do “bobbin lace” to live the day at day. Help with homework, provide them with leisure and play time, continue to educate and give them love and, all this, without affecting their mental health in the least.

But how can you control the use of our children’s screens when it is as if they lived inside a shopping center and had everything free and at their fingertips?

You can’t think of the anything goes

The first thing to be clear about is that you cannot be extreme (not now, nor in normal conditions, of course): our children are not going to be without screens all day, it would be utopian and unreal, nor is it convenient to think that, being an exceptional situation, anything goes and they can do what they want and when they want, and then we’ll see how we fix it.

When we talk about the risks of going from use to abuse in technology and how abusive use of the internet, social networks or video games can lead to pathological behavior (although only video game disorder and chance have recently been admitted to the ICD-11 by the WHO ), it is always recommended to use preventive strategies such as carrying out healthy leisure activities (doing sports, walks with the family, going to the cinema, swimming pool, etc.) by minors to alternate with the display times.

The difficulty of finding healthy leisure at home

The problem that arises now is that much of that healthy leisure is impossible to carry out indoors. When you have young children the problem is less, since it is easier to substitute outdoor activities for crafts, moments for painting or drawing, family board games, etc. But when dealing with this problem with adolescents, things get complicated, since most of the activities they want to do are online .

Therefore, even if until now the rules and limits, the parental controls and others have been strictly observed, we should not be obsessed or overwhelmed if our children spend more hours a day playing on the console, watching YouTube or TikTok videos or talking to your friends by Facetime, Skype or Hangouts.

The fundamental thing currently to control the situation and try to ensure that after all these days a higher use of screens at home does not become a problem is, just as adults should do, establish routines and schedules for our children. But you don’t have to be strict, it’s not that they feel like they’re under “house arrest.”

It should only be supervised that this activity and use of screens is safe and healthy, that they do not access content not recommended for their age or connect with unknown people, that they do not share personal information and that they do not enter gambling or online gaming pages. .

Keys to organize online play time

So how do you organize time and all online activities? Some ideas to make a schedule and that each family can adapt their needs and those of their children, depending on their ages are:

  • Get up, shower and get dressed. It is essential and essential that they do not stay in their pajamas all day, because they have to understand that they are neither on vacation nor sick.
  • Have breakfast and make bed. Helping children around the house from a young age makes them assume responsibilities and increases their maturity.
  • Do homework at school, institute or university. Depending on age, they will have more or less hours of homework and classes not in person each day, but it is important that they follow a daily routine to do so.
  • Spend some time entertaining yourself on social media, playing on the console, or chatting.
  • Help at home, set the table or make food.
  • Rest, TV moment or family series. You can enjoy a family movie or choose from a number of different VOD platforms .
  • Fun time and / or learning with online courses , sports , dance , creativity videos , etc.
  • Help at home, make dinner, clear the table, etc.
  • Chat for a while with family, friends, etc.
  • Rest time, family time and sleep.

And remember: don’t get frustrated if one day, or two, you can’t keep your schedules; It is already known that sometimes the rules are there to be broken. The most important thing is that you and your family are positive and face each day as a new challenge, with enthusiasm and enthusiasm. Because we already know that this virus, we stop it all!

Author Bio: Laura Cuesta Cano is Head of Communication and Digital Content in PAD Service. Professor at Camilo José Cela University